Microsoft has joined the Open Compute Project

In yet another move towards open source, Microsoft has announced that they will join the Open Compute Project.  Microsoft will be contributing its cloud server specifications for the most advanced hardware in its data centers for services such as Windows Azure, Office 365, Bing, etc.

Microsoft is also open sourcing all the code used to manage hardware operations such as power supply, server diagnostics and fan control.

Why is this strategically important for Microsoft and its customers?

  • In general, there is a Microsoft strategy towards transparency as part of its cloud services as a competitive advantage over more proprietary services.  This is an important consideration when reviewing key issues like security and privacy. 
  • Microsoft’s commit to hybrid cloud models aligns with this decision in that they are effectively sharing their designs that in theory could be adopted by other private or hybrid cloud providers.  Their bet is by sharing these models they will promote adoption of Windows Server technologies whether they are through its own public cloud or through partner hybrid cloud services.
  • By participating in the Open Compute Project, Microsoft is effectively sharing with other leading cloud vendors such as Facebook and IBM and leading hardware vendors such as AMD, Seagate, etc. their best practices so that as an industry the cloud computing movement can evolve better designs. 

In contrast, Microsoft’s competitors Google and Amazon have proprietary and closed data center designs. 

“When you’re the first company to design something, sometimes there’s an advantage to keeping it secret,” Zuckerberg said.

As more and more people access data, the odds of any single company figuring out how to deal with it efficiently goes down, said Jay Parikh, Facebook’s vice president of infrastructure engineering.

“If we really want to connect seven billion people, we’re going to have to work together,” Parikh said. “I don’t see it working any other way.”